Michigan-Michigan State: What I Learned in Ann Arbor
After an hour and a half spent in traffic waiting to get into Ann Arbor, followed by a 30-minute parking adventure, I finally made it into the Big House Saturday to be greeted by yet another line, this one to get to my seat on the 30-yard line.
I was having a bad day. Things weren't going smoothly for me even though I planned for traffic to be bad and planned for parking to suck. As soon as I saw the 200 or so people queued up for my section, I knew the rest of the day wasn't going to go my way either.
Michigan State came out on top of this contest for the third time in a row; the last time they did that was '65-'67.
In reality this game was probably closer than the score might tell, but in the end the final score is what mattered.
Let's face it—Michigan State fans don't know how to win. You can call me a sore loser if you want because I probably am being one, but MSU fans didn't display an ounce of class at all after the game. The sad part is, nobody expected them to.
The group of State fans in the southwest corner of the stadium, at the end of the game, capped things off by chanting "Lit-tle sis-ter" over and over again. Wow, are you still fired up about a comment Mike Hart made four years ago? I have to say it's a little sad.
I have to give credit where credit is due though, and Michigan State fans do have the right to celebrate after being the punching bag for the Big Ten for so many years.
If there are any Nebraska fans out there reading this, know this: You will not hate Michigan State at first. Until they finally beat you. Then you will hate Michigan State. That one win is all you'll hear about until your ears bleed. It won't matter if you beat them the next nine years in a row; that one win is all you'll hear about. Nobody gets more mileage out of one win per decade than Michigan State.
Before I'm "corrected," I know it's been three in a row, not just one.
He just simply can't do it all by himself. It's not that he wasn't getting help (outside from a few very frustrating drops); he was just putting the weight of the game on his shoulders. You could tell. His interceptions were a combination of poor reads and forced throws that shouldn't have happened.
Every time Michigan State put one in the paint, Denard came out and tried to answer right back. The problem is, he tried too hard.
This was a big game for him, and he's still young. There are bigger games yet to come this season (sorry State fans, but there are), and he needs to calm down and take control of the game.
MSU did a good job of limiting him on the ground, forcing him under 100 yards for the first time this season. Don't think for a second that Iowa, in its bye week, hasn't noticed and won't be trying to replicate that in practice all week.
For the first time this season, Denard Robinson looked mortal.
It was at some point during the third quarter that I sent my buddy, who was not at the game, this text message:
"I never thought somebody could make Morgan Trent look desirable but F@#$ing James Rogers is doing it..."
A little bit later I sent him this message:
"I swear to God, if Cam Gordon misses another tackle..."
It was all I could do to keep from throwing a temper tantrum in my seat every time Michigan State would turn a three-yard gain into a 10-yard gain because Cam Gordon was apparently made of rubber and James Rogers didn't know what the hell was going on at any point during the game.
I'm glad I wasn't able to see the Indiana game. Being at this game and watching the defense fail to execute on any level that resembled a college football-like substance aged me beyond repair.
In the fourth quarter someone sent me a message from the bar informing me that they were still watching in the hopes that the camera would cut to a shot of me pulling out my hair. My response:
"Stay tuned because it's happening."
I really don't care where you are on the field. I don't care if it's 4th-and-99. When you're down a couple scores with six minutes left in the game, YOU DON'T PUNT THE BALL AWAY*.
As soon as I saw the punting unit trot out onto the field, I looked over at my wife, who was with me at the game, and said, "Game over, let's go."
This is the first time I have ever left the Big House with time still left on the clock. Words couldn't, and still don't, express my rage and disbelief that Rich Rodriguez pretty much said "screw it" and waved his punting unit out onto the field.
Later, in his post-game press conference, he said that punting with six minutes left was the wrong call and he was trying to signal to his players to change the play.
The fact that punting crossed his mind AT ALL still causes me to twitch and start barking at random things until my wife hands me a chew toy.
*There are a lot of colorful adjectives and adverbs that were thrown into that sentence originally, but I decided it might not be the most appropriate way to get my point across.
This game was important for several reasons:
One, it will give MSU fans something to talk about for the next year, and it allows them to keep their adorable little x-amount of days since Michigan last beat us streak intact (seriously, who does that?).
Two, it was a great experience for Denard Robinson to be able to face a defense that isn't soft and squishy.
Three, it put things into perspective for a lot of Michigan fans that were beginning to slip into the old habit of writing certain teams off. I've been saying it since the beginning of the season: Indiana was going to rip through our secondary, and MSU is a strong candidate to make a shot for the Big Ten title. After four games, a lot of people didn't want to hear that.
I know one thing is for certain though: I am really tired of losing to every team that matters. Michigan State having a streak against Michigan is just unacceptable, and a Michigan win over Ohio State is long overdue. Unfortunately the former is a reality, and the latter is looking more and more bleak.
Disclaimer: Please don't confuse anything I've written here to be a "Fire Rich Rodriguez" rant. I'm not quite there yet.